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Morocco sends Islamist convict back to Spain

Published on 04/04/2009

RABAT - "Hassan Al Haski was transferred Thursday afternoon to Madrid," said Abderrahim Mouhtad, president of the Ennassir association, in a claim confirmed to AFP by Haski's own lawyer and other judicial sources.

In solidarity with Haski, Islamist detainees in Morocco are staging a 24-hour hunger strike Friday, Mouhtad added.

Also known as Abu Hamza, 41-year-old Haski is regarded in Morocco as one of the "Moroccan Afghans" who founded the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group, which is affiliated with Osama bin Laden’s global Al-Qaeda network.

The group was implicated in the Madrid train bombings in March 2004 that killed 181 people, and in a rash of same-day attacks in Casablanca in May 2003 that left 45 dead including 12 suicide bombers.

He was tried in Morocco for "constituting a criminal gang with a view to preparing and committing terrorist acts aimed at inflicting grave harm on public order through terror and violence".

Mouhtad said: "We are against this transfer of Hassan Al Haski, who would prefer to serve his sentence in Morocco. He is first of all a Moroccan citizen, and often he has denounced the conditions of his detention in Spain."

Haski’s lawyer Khalil Idrissi told AFP: "I hold Moroccan officials responsible for transferring Hassan Al Haski to Spain in a deteriorated state of health resulting from a hunger strike he was observing in Morocco."

Arrested in 2004, Haski was tried in Spain and sentenced to 14 years in prison, which he began to serve in Villena, southeast Spain, before he was sent to Morocco in September 2008 for a renewable six-month period.

On 2 March, the Moroccan anti-terrorist tribunal in Sale, near Rabat, sentenced Haski to 10 years for his role in the Casablanca bombings.